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Hooniverse Weekend of Discovery – The 1934 to 1940 Rytecraft Scootacar

Let’s continue on with our Weekend of Discovery. While looking through the images from Alden Jewell’s Flickr Photostream, I noticed several prewar images with a very strange looking micro-car. The name of the vehicle was prominent on the side of the hood – Rytecraft Scootacar – a make I have never heard of. Well, here is a brief history of the car…

The Rytecraft Scootacar was built in London by the British Motorboat Manufacturing Company between 1934 and 1940. The company later changed its name to BMB Engineering, and apparently there were a few built after 1945 once the war ended.

This is a very small car, and originated as a fairground Dodgem type car that was electrically powered. That all changed when the designer, Jack Shillan, installed a 98 cc Villiers Midget single-cylinder engine and sold it for road use in 1934. The transmission used was single speed and operated by a single pedal which opened the throttle when pressed down and applied the brake when released. The clutch was automatic, and the car was very crude with no suspension whatsoever. Drive was to one of the rear wheels and the single brake ooperated on the other. It was said to be capable of reaching 15 mph, and the body was open and had a single seat.

The later cars from about 1939 had a larger 250 cc engine, a three speed gearbox and normal pedal controls. Top speed was 40 mph. Two seats were now fitted along with electric lights. A commercial version, the Scootatruck was also made and for publicity some were styled to look like Vauxhall and Chrysler models. All in all, there was only around 1,000 units produced. Several survive and one is on display at the Brooklands museum.

Image Credits: Alden Jewell’s Flickr Photostream

Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Vavon says:

    Awsome little car and very simple to work on (under)!!!
    <img src="http://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/6208/135322351.ae/0_8c1c0_5e161b94_XL.jpg&quot; width="700/">

    • Alcology says:

      "Remember to get the money to us by friday Tommy, or else!"
      "Or else what, you know how many times I've dropped this thing on myself working on it?"

  2. TDI_FTW says:

    90 mpg in the '30s! The Smart car doesn't seem so smart anymore now…. Granted, you can go quite a bit faster in a Smart, but this is infinitely more cool than a Smart and for city driving 40mph is plenty fast.

  3. Vavon says:

    What a great story!!! The car still exists…

    <img src="http://librapix.com.s3.amazonaws.com/classic-and-vintage-cars.com/6476.jpg&quot; width="600/">

    14/6/2011. National Motor Museum – Beaulieu.

    Around the World in a half horsepower car 1965/66

    It is difficult to think of a vehicle less suited to long distance travel than the 98cc Rytecraft Scoota-Car; yet on 25 May 1965 Jim Parkinson set out to drive a thirty year old model round the World. Driving a distance of 15,000 miles (24,000km) in 421 days, Parkinson’s route took him across Europe and into the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Refused permission to drive across Siberia, the Scoota-Car had to be transported as baggage on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

    Parkinson and the car appeared on TV and newspapers in Japan, even selling autographed pictures to finance the onward journey. In the USA the Scoota-Car was initially banned from the roads by the California Police. In North and South Carolina the law turned a blind eye to the 10mph (16kph) car on roads where a minimum speed limit of 40mph (64kph) was in place.

    Uphill stretches of the journey had to be completed on foot, with Parkinson walking alongside the tiny car which couldn’t manage gradients with the driver onboard.

    1cyl – 98cc – 0.4bhp@2000rpm – 10mph although 15 was claimed by the manufacturer – £70

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